Sincerely, Your Autistic Child

What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity

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A diverse collection of autistic voices that highlights how parents can avoid common mistakes and misconceptions, and make their child feel truly accepted, valued, and celebrated for who they are.

Most resources available for parents come from psychologists, educators, and doctors, offering parents a narrow and technical approach to autism. Sincerely, Your Autistic Child represents an authentic resource for parents written by autistic people themselves.

From childhood and education to culture, gender identity, and sexuality, this anthology tackles the everyday joys and challenges of growing up while honestly addressing the emotional needs, sensitivity, and vibrancy of autistic kids, youth, and young adults. Contributors reflect on what they have learned while growing up on the autism spectrum and how parents can avoid common mistakes and overcome challenges while raising their child.

Part memoir, part guide, and part love letter, Sincerely, Your Autistic Child is an indispensable collection that invites parents and allies into the unique and often unheard experiences of autistic children and teens.
Emily Paige Ballou is an old Millennial from the Midwest who currently lives and works in NYC, where she primarily stage manages off-Broadway new plays and new musicals, including works such as the Hello Girls with Prospect Theater Company, Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat at the Adirondack Theatre Festival, and Rose with Nora’s Playhouse. She graduated from the University of Georgia, where she was also a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society. Previous publications include pieces in the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children, NeuroQueer, Barking Sycamores, and Fuckit: A Zine.

Sharon daVanport lives in the Midwest by way of their home state of Texas where they spent young adulthood writing short stories, poetry and serving as co-editor of their academic newspaper. After nearly a decade in social work, Sharon founded the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN). Appointed by their state’s board of education, Sharon served a full term on the SILC board of directors. Publications include co-authoring a paper in Sage Pub Autism Journal, a chapter in Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Front Line, and pieces in Welcome to the Autistic Community, and Disability Visibility Project.

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, MA, is a global self-advocate, educator, parent and disabled person of color in a neurodiverse, multicultural, serodifferent family. A prolific writer, public speaker, and social scientist/activist whose work focuses on meaningful community involvement, human rights, justice, and inclusion, Morénike is a Humanities Scholar at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and a member of several executive boards. Publications include: Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism, All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, and various peer-reviewed articles. Learn more at: morenikeGO.com.

Autistic Women’s Network, renamed Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, (AWN), was founded as the first organization that focused on Autistic women, girls, and nonbinary people. They are an essential resource for autistic people, parents, and allies for dispelling stereotypes and misinformation around autism. More information can be found awnnetwork.org.
Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network View titles by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network
Foreword
Jess Wilson

Letter from the Editors

Early Memories, Childhood, and Education

1
Acknowledge Vulnerability; Presume Competence
B. Martin Allen

2
It’s Us Against the World, Kid
Brigid Rankowski

3
What Autistic Girls Wish Their Parents Knew About Friendship
Jane Strauss

4
What Your Daughter Deserves: Love, Safety, and the Truth
Kassiane Asasumasu

5
What I Wish You Knew
Katie Levin

6
Change the World, Not Your Child
Lei Wiley-Mydske

7
Empathy and Non-Verbal Cues
Dusya Lyubovskaya

8
The First Time I Heard of Autism
Anonymous

9
What I Wish My Parents Knew About Being Their Autistic Daughter
Heidi Wangelin

10
A Particular Way of Being
Karen Lean

Acceptance and Adaptation

11
A Daughter’s Journey: Lessons, Honesty, and Love
Jennifer St. Jude

12
Still Your Child
Ondrea Marisa Robinson

13
Perfect in an Imperfect World
Haley Moss

14
Who Gets to Be Diagnosed? And Who Does It Serve?
Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán

15
Unconventional
Amythest Schaber

16
I Wish I Wasn’t So Hard on Myself Back Then
Kayla Smith

17
Ten Things I Wish My Parents Had Known When I Was Growing Up
Amelia “Mel” Evelyn Voicy Baggs

18
I Am an Autistic Woman
Amy Sequenzia

19
The View from Outside the Window
HW

20
Finding Me: The Journey to Acceptance
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu

21
Autism, Self-Acceptance, and Hope
Lynne Soraya

Intersectional Identity and Finding Community

22
Keep Her Safe; Let Her Fly Free
Maxfield Sparrow

23
Tell Me I’m Autistic
Anonymous

24
Autism, Sensory Experiences, and Family Culture
Mallory Cruz

25
Safe Harbors in a Difficult World
Kayla Rodriguez

26
Give Your Daughters Autistic Community
Jean Winegardner

27
A Parents’ Guide to Being Transgender and Autistic
Alexandra Forshaw

28
On Surviving Loneliness and Isolation, and Learning to Live with Loss
Lydia X. Z. Brown

29
There’s a Place
Emily Paige Ballou

Conclusion
Beth Ryan

About the Editors
Contributors
Acknowledgments
Notes
“This book is absolutely required reading for parents, educators, and caregivers who interact with anyone on the autism spectrum.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Anybody who thinks differently, and anybody who loves someone who thinks differently, will find this collection invaluable.”
—Hannah Gadsby, writer and comedian

“An essential anthology edited and written by Autistic people . . . I can’t wait to share and recommend this book—what a gift.”
—Alice Wong, editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

About

A diverse collection of autistic voices that highlights how parents can avoid common mistakes and misconceptions, and make their child feel truly accepted, valued, and celebrated for who they are.

Most resources available for parents come from psychologists, educators, and doctors, offering parents a narrow and technical approach to autism. Sincerely, Your Autistic Child represents an authentic resource for parents written by autistic people themselves.

From childhood and education to culture, gender identity, and sexuality, this anthology tackles the everyday joys and challenges of growing up while honestly addressing the emotional needs, sensitivity, and vibrancy of autistic kids, youth, and young adults. Contributors reflect on what they have learned while growing up on the autism spectrum and how parents can avoid common mistakes and overcome challenges while raising their child.

Part memoir, part guide, and part love letter, Sincerely, Your Autistic Child is an indispensable collection that invites parents and allies into the unique and often unheard experiences of autistic children and teens.

Author

Emily Paige Ballou is an old Millennial from the Midwest who currently lives and works in NYC, where she primarily stage manages off-Broadway new plays and new musicals, including works such as the Hello Girls with Prospect Theater Company, Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat at the Adirondack Theatre Festival, and Rose with Nora’s Playhouse. She graduated from the University of Georgia, where she was also a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society. Previous publications include pieces in the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children, NeuroQueer, Barking Sycamores, and Fuckit: A Zine.

Sharon daVanport lives in the Midwest by way of their home state of Texas where they spent young adulthood writing short stories, poetry and serving as co-editor of their academic newspaper. After nearly a decade in social work, Sharon founded the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN). Appointed by their state’s board of education, Sharon served a full term on the SILC board of directors. Publications include co-authoring a paper in Sage Pub Autism Journal, a chapter in Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement: Stories from the Front Line, and pieces in Welcome to the Autistic Community, and Disability Visibility Project.

Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, MA, is a global self-advocate, educator, parent and disabled person of color in a neurodiverse, multicultural, serodifferent family. A prolific writer, public speaker, and social scientist/activist whose work focuses on meaningful community involvement, human rights, justice, and inclusion, Morénike is a Humanities Scholar at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and a member of several executive boards. Publications include: Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism, All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, and various peer-reviewed articles. Learn more at: morenikeGO.com.

Autistic Women’s Network, renamed Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, (AWN), was founded as the first organization that focused on Autistic women, girls, and nonbinary people. They are an essential resource for autistic people, parents, and allies for dispelling stereotypes and misinformation around autism. More information can be found awnnetwork.org.
Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network View titles by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network

Table of Contents

Foreword
Jess Wilson

Letter from the Editors

Early Memories, Childhood, and Education

1
Acknowledge Vulnerability; Presume Competence
B. Martin Allen

2
It’s Us Against the World, Kid
Brigid Rankowski

3
What Autistic Girls Wish Their Parents Knew About Friendship
Jane Strauss

4
What Your Daughter Deserves: Love, Safety, and the Truth
Kassiane Asasumasu

5
What I Wish You Knew
Katie Levin

6
Change the World, Not Your Child
Lei Wiley-Mydske

7
Empathy and Non-Verbal Cues
Dusya Lyubovskaya

8
The First Time I Heard of Autism
Anonymous

9
What I Wish My Parents Knew About Being Their Autistic Daughter
Heidi Wangelin

10
A Particular Way of Being
Karen Lean

Acceptance and Adaptation

11
A Daughter’s Journey: Lessons, Honesty, and Love
Jennifer St. Jude

12
Still Your Child
Ondrea Marisa Robinson

13
Perfect in an Imperfect World
Haley Moss

14
Who Gets to Be Diagnosed? And Who Does It Serve?
Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán

15
Unconventional
Amythest Schaber

16
I Wish I Wasn’t So Hard on Myself Back Then
Kayla Smith

17
Ten Things I Wish My Parents Had Known When I Was Growing Up
Amelia “Mel” Evelyn Voicy Baggs

18
I Am an Autistic Woman
Amy Sequenzia

19
The View from Outside the Window
HW

20
Finding Me: The Journey to Acceptance
Morénike Giwa Onaiwu

21
Autism, Self-Acceptance, and Hope
Lynne Soraya

Intersectional Identity and Finding Community

22
Keep Her Safe; Let Her Fly Free
Maxfield Sparrow

23
Tell Me I’m Autistic
Anonymous

24
Autism, Sensory Experiences, and Family Culture
Mallory Cruz

25
Safe Harbors in a Difficult World
Kayla Rodriguez

26
Give Your Daughters Autistic Community
Jean Winegardner

27
A Parents’ Guide to Being Transgender and Autistic
Alexandra Forshaw

28
On Surviving Loneliness and Isolation, and Learning to Live with Loss
Lydia X. Z. Brown

29
There’s a Place
Emily Paige Ballou

Conclusion
Beth Ryan

About the Editors
Contributors
Acknowledgments
Notes

Praise

“This book is absolutely required reading for parents, educators, and caregivers who interact with anyone on the autism spectrum.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Anybody who thinks differently, and anybody who loves someone who thinks differently, will find this collection invaluable.”
—Hannah Gadsby, writer and comedian

“An essential anthology edited and written by Autistic people . . . I can’t wait to share and recommend this book—what a gift.”
—Alice Wong, editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

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